Thomas Nabbes



Printed in 1638 by Richard Oulton for Charles Greene, with Nabbes' name on the title page. The title page also says that the play was "Acted in the YEARE MDCXXXIII [1633] At the private House in Salisbury-Court." Following the title page is a dedication by Nabbes to William Mills, Esquire.

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


The main female protagonist of the play, and fiancée of Worthgood. As the play begins, she and Worthgood are fleeing from her disapproving uncle through Marylebone Park, but they become separated. She soon encounters and befriends Cicely, the daughter of the park's keeper, and the two women switch identities to help Bellamie escape her pursuers. They are mistaken for prostitutes by James, who represents the sensual love of which Nabbes disapproved. Bellamie, in contrast, is the play's major proponent of idealistic, Platonic love. She is eventually reunited with Worthgood in act four after swooning from her brother Sam's verbal abuse, and in the play's final scene she finally receives her uncle's blessing to marry Worthgood after Worthgood's rich uncle dies.


An amorous gallant, friend of the Stitchwells and acquaintance of Frank. Along with Frank, George, and James, he represents the sensual, hedonistic form of love of which Nabbes disapproved. He flirts with Mistress Stitchwell and attempts to seduce her in front of her sleeping husband. But he becomes alarmed when Stitchwell, apparently sleepwalking, pulls Changelove's ears and calls him Sir Lancelot, apparently dreaming that they are in the court of King Arthur. Later it is revealed that Stitchwell was not really asleep, but was gulling Changelove along with his wife; upon hearing this, Changelove goes off with George to drown their sorrows in a cup of sack.


A milkmaid, the daughter of the keeper of Marylebone Park, who befriends Bellamie after Bellamie and Worthgood are separated in the park. The two women switch clothes to help Bellamie escape her pursuers. Cicely is wooed by Frank, one of the gallants who represent the sensual love of which Nabbes disapproved, and is mistaken for a prostitute by James, another of the gallants. Cicely, in contrast, is one of the play's chief proponents of a more idealistic, Platonic love. She discovers in the play's final scene that she is actually the natural brother of Worthgood, Bellamie's fiancé, and she ends up engaged to Sam, Bellamie's brother, after the keeper provides her with a marriage portion.


A courtier, friend of George and acquaintance of Changelove, in love with Cicely at the beginning of the play. He and George hatch a plot to cuckold Stitchwell, but their plot fails due to the tricks of Mistress Stitchwell. Later Frank is himself gulled by Cicely, who makes him think she will surrender her virginity to him but secretly abhors his "foule lust". She tells him she will hide in a trunk of feathers, but the trunk actually contains James when it is carried off by George. Frank and George eventually fight over the trunk that they think contains Cicely, but are surprised when James emerges from it. In the play's last scene, Frank confronts Bellamie over her trickery before leaving in disgrace.


A fat courtier, friend of Frank. He pretends to hate women in an attempt to gull Stitchwell and sleep with Mistress Stitchwell, but he ends up being almost drowned in a washtub while hiding from Stitchwell. Later he woos both Cicely and Bellamie, whom he believes to be virgins, but ends up gulled by them, carrying away a trunk containing the sleeping James. George and Frank eventually fight over the trunk that they think contains Cicely, and are startled when James emerges instead.


The hostess of the inn where Bellamie and Cicely try to hide from their pursuers. She reappears briefly at the end of the play, when the various happy couples have paired off.


A wild young gentleman of the Inns of Court, friend of Sam and acquaintance of Changelove. James loves dancing schools and playhouses, and is one of the play's foremost proponents of the sensual pleasures of which Nabbes disapproved. He goes to Cicely, believing her to be a prostitute, but ends up locked in a trunk of feathers as part of Cicely's gulling of Frank and George. He emerges from the trunk just as Frank and George are about to fight a duel, and goes off with Changelove to drown their sorrows in a cup of sack.


The keeper of Marylebone Park (called Marrowbone Park in the play), and father of Cecilia. He encounters Worthgood early in the play and agrees to help him find Bellamie, while implying that he has a secret reason for doing so. Eventually the keeper and his man Slip do help Worthgood find Bellamie, and the keeper later reveals that his daughter Cecilia is actually adopted, and is the sister of Worthgood. He also provides a marriage portion so that Cecilia can marry Bellamie's brother Sam.


Stitchwell's wife, who gulls both George and Changelove in two of the play's comic subplots. George tries to sleep with her by pretending to hate women so that Stitchwell will let him spend time with her, but George ends up hiding in a washtub and almost drowning when it is filled with water. She also flirts with Changelove, but he is also humiliated when an apparently sleepwalking Stitchwell (actually in on the trick) pulls his ears and calls him Sir Lancelot.


An alternate designation for Tenants.


A porter who is engaged by Cicely to help carry away the trunk that George believes contains Cicely, but which actually contains James.


A gentleman of the Inns of Court, friend of James and brother of Bellamie. He recognizes Bellamie in her disguise, but she denies her identity to him; later, when she and Cicely are pretending to be prostitutes, Sam recognizes her and pretends to purchase her services, whereupon Bellamie tearfully admits her identity. He flies into a rage, causing Bellamie to swoon, and in the ensuing commotion Worthgood arrives and is finally reunited with Bellamie. Sam ends up engaged to marry Cicely, who had earlier expressed to Bellamie her love for Sam.


A servant of Bellamie's uncle, who has only a few lines in act five, but important ones. Near the end of the play, he brings word that Worthgood's rich uncle has died and made Worthgood his heir, thus allowing Worthgood and Bellamie to marry.


A clown, the keeper's manservant. He usually appears alongside the keeper, providing witty and irreverent commentaries on the proceedings, but in the play's last act he helps Sam, Bellamie's brother, woo and win Cicely.


A tailor of the Strand, friend of Changelove. The courtiers Frank and George hatch a plot to cuckold him by making him think that George hates women, thus leading him to press his wife on George. The plot is foiled by the witty Mistress Stitchwell, who turns the tables and humiliates George by making him hide in a washtub in which he nearly drowns. Later, when Changelove and Mistress Stitchwell appear on the verge of sleeping together, an apparently sleepwalking Stitchwell pulls Changelove's ears and acts as though he is King Arthur and Changelove is Sir Lancelot. Later Stitchwell reveals that he was in on all the plots the whole time.


Proprietor of an alehouse in Tottenham Court where much of the play's action takes place. After providing a room for Bellamie and Cicely, he promptly goes and tells the gallants where the women are, implying that they are prostitutes.


Two tenants of Bellamie's uncle. At the play's outset they are part of the entourage which is helping the uncle search for Bellamie, but they separate themselves from the rest of the party to go sleep. It later turns out that they were sleeping in the same inn where Bellamie and the gallants were carousing that morning, and they inform the uncle of her whereabouts, helping to bring about the play's conclusion.


Bellamie's uncle, an angry country gentleman. At the play's outset, he is pursuing Bellamie and Worthgood through Marylebone Park along with his servants and tenants, because he does not approve of the match; this pursuit causes the lovers to become separated, setting the rest of the plot in motion. The uncle reappears only near the end of the play, finding Bellamie and Worthgood after two of his tenants tells him where they are. After initial skepticism, he finally accepts Worthgood as a worthy match for Bellamie after a servant brings word that Worthgood's uncle has died and made him his heir.


A serving-wench who only appears briefly, to pour water into the washtub where George is hiding, leading him to be discovered.


A penniless but worthy gentleman, engaged to marry Bellamie, but separated from her in the play's opening scene while fleeing Bellamie's disapproving uncle in Marylebone Park. He soon encounters the park's keeper, who agrees to help Worthgood find Bellamie. Worthgood and Bellamie are reunited in act four, and in the play's final scene, the keeper reveals that his daughter Cicely is actually Worthgood's sister, who Worthgood believed to have died in infancy. Worthgood also discovers that his rich uncle has died, making him an acceptable husband for Bellamie and winning her uncle's approval.

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